Incredible views and posh accommodations at a Carmel classic.
by Sophie Gayot
When it comes to casual sophistication, California has perfected the style. In the southern part of the state, the version is barefoot and sun-kissed, while in the northern regions, it's rustic and down-to-earth. Epitomizing the homey yet refined vibe of the Monterey Bay area is Hyatt Carmel Highlands, whose stone, glass and natural wood harmonize with the broody, rim-of-the-ocean Carmel setting.
Anchored by a main lodge that opened in 1917, Hyatt Carmel Highlands (formerly Highlands Inn) sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. Its clean, simple lines seem like a tribute to Frank Lloyd Wright, and its picture windows take full advantage of the water views. There is an almost ship-like feeling from the inside as you hover over the surf. Further integrating the property with its surroundings is the use of color and therapeutic tones that reflect natural elements: earth, sky, sea and the area's deep green Monterey pines.
Set within buildings staggered along a hillside, accommodations are spacious, done in a comfortably contemporary style and well equipped with iHome stereos and wireless Internet access. The 48 rooms (including the hotel's 11 suites) offer garden or ocean views, although the latter are preferable, since the dramatic Big Sur coastline and equally impressive sunsets are two of the hotel's most significant attractions. For a top-of-the-line stay, book a one- or two-bedroom spa suite with double Jacuzzi spa tub, full kitchen and private deck or balcony. Most rooms and suites come with fireplaces stocked with a supply of pine logs.
Nearby Carmel and Monterey Bay are known for their wealth of fine dining establishments, but there's no need to leave the hotel to enjoy an excellent meal. The historic, aptly named California Market at Pacific’s Edge restaurant lures guests, locals and loyal road trippers with California coastal cuisine and its selection of prix-fixe menus from executive chef Chad Minton. Expect fresh flavors and plenty of local produce and seafood. A drink at the Sunset Lounge completes a pleasant Hyatt Carmel Highlands night out.
Although the hotel is a top choice for romantics, it caters to business travelers as well. The lobby is furnished with private work stations with complimentary high-speed Internet access, and three of the six meeting rooms have ocean views. Overall, though, this place is more about recreation than networking, with plenty to keep you occupied both on the property (heated outdoor swimming pool, three whirlpools, fitness room, in-room spa treatments and yoga classes) and off. Pebble Beach golf, aerial flight-seeing at sunset and private racecar driving classes at the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway are just a few of the activities that can be arranged.